Which trends stand out in Integration? Martin Citron, Integration Services Leader, gives some answers.

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Integration is a topic that can be elusive to grasp fully. However, companies have an inkling that they will need it, or at least that it is essential to pay attention to it. This hunch is correct because integration enables today's digital era and allows companies to innovate and adapt. What are the trends in integration, and what should companies focus on to manage the current pressure and accelerated pace, and keep up with the times and competition? Martin Citron, Integration Services Leader at Trask, addresses these questions.

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Hi Martin, how long have you been working for Trask?

Hello. I have been working for Trask for more than 13 years and have participated in many integration projects in roles like integration architect, developer, and finally delivery manager. Now, I lead application integration competency here at the company.

When we talk about integration, what exactly is it, and how long has Trask been delivering it?

Trask has been delivering complex, systematic integration platforms for almost 30 years. Actually, our first company project back then was delivering integration of the mainframes for a bank. Since then, we helped many customers to build or modernize their application integration domain, and we have seen how the integration field is changing. We experienced the rise of service-oriented architecture and built enterprise service buses for our clients, still considered an integration backbone in many environments.

We took part in rising API initiatives, including the Open Banking initiative. We were the first to build an API management platform enabling banks to expose their digital assets to the world securely. We also started delivering API management platforms for our client’s internal integration architecture to bring flexibility with a self-service approach, enabling organizations to become truly agile.

[.infobox]We can define integration as "a box of self-state applications, that has to work together."[.infobox]

And what is the main focus in that area?

With API Management, we focus our clients' integration strategy on building business domain capabilities exposed via APIs rather than point-to-point application connections. Lately, we are also seeing rising demand for managing not only synchronous APIs, often in the form of REST APIs or GraphQL, but also for managing asynchronous integrations like Apache Kafka topics or message queues.

Emerging microservice architecture and cloud-native development also left a footprint in our integration approach. We strive to build integration platforms in containerized environments, like Kubernetes or OpenShift, with massive infrastructure automation, CI/CD pipelines, automated quality assurance, and GitOps. And in the last few years, we have seen many new integration trends.

That was our next question– what are the main trends in this area?

  1. The first is event-streaming integration, especially with technologies like Apache Kafka and Flink. We have been accustomed to leveraging the asynchronous nature of messaging systems for some time, but event-streaming brings much more to the table. With event streaming, we can build real-time, easily scalable, and resilient applications. Its streaming capabilities allow us to process and transmit huge amounts of data in a split second. Recently, we successfully delivered an entirely new enterprise streaming integration platform to one of our clients, allowing them to build modern digital channels on its basis.
  2. The second trend we see is hybrid integration. Many of our customers have already built or are just considering building their applications and integrations in the cloud. Usually, that means utilizing not only one cloud but several, leading to a multi-cloud integration. And, of course, many workloads are still running on premises, which must also be integrated with workloads in the cloud. Utilizing cloud services poses a lot of new challenges and questions. For example, where should you publish all your APIs, what is the impact on applications with redirection to the cloud API GW, and what security protocols should be used?
  3. As a third trend, I can mention AI (we say Machine Learning tools), where integration based on modern technologies will be necessary for incorporating AI services into the company ecosystem. Also, AI technologies are great but they must be trustworthy – AI may be trained on incorrect procedures. What to do about it? Try out how AI works in simple scenarios before releasing it for use within the company. AI will work well in developing integrations that someone has already done. It will be inefficient for specific use cases (which can be a typical example in an environment with many custom-built systems).

What do you consider the main change from the technology perspective?

From the technological perspective, we see the rise of Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS). They enable you to quickly build integration services for connecting disparate systems in the cloud and on-premises. Because of their cloud nature, their operation is fairly straightforward. They can be scaled as needed and cater to citizen integrators with a low-code, no-code approach.

From the technological perspective, we see the rise of Integration Platforms as a Service.

Integration Services Leader, Trask

They usually provide built-in features like API Management to version and publish your APIs and robotic process automation modules. They allow you to manage the delivery lifecycle, including deployment. As they focus on hybrid integration, they provide modules (small, containerized agents or proxies, if you like) enabling you to run the integration services anywhere you want, whether in your on-premises environment or any cloud you choose.

Regardless of architecture or technology, all companies are trying to grasp the application integration domain systematically. This is what we at Trask focus on - how to bring the best possible solution and added value to our customers. Integration doesn’t stand independently but is often a cornerstone for all your digital strategies, and we can help you with that.

[.infobox][.infobox-heading]Integration Platforms as a Service: the foundation of cloud services and the democratization of integration[.infobox-heading]In today’s rapidly evolving IT environment, Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) are becoming a core element of successful enterprise IT environments. iPaaS is becoming the centre of gravity for cloud solutions, especially in terms of connecting disparate systems, exchanging data, and ensuring security. At the same time, iPaaS makes extensive use of the principle of IT democratization and does not require the involvement of integration experts to handle common application integration tasks. In the end, you’ll probably find out that you need iPaaS without even knowing it.[.infobox]


Martin Citron
Integration Services Leader, Trask

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